Capstone: Purpose

What did capstone mean to me?

When I previously thought of capstone, I had the following thoughts on the meaning of capstone.

  • Publish a paper for a cool personal achievement.
  • Experiment with random things that I don’t have a chance to try out when I graduate.
  • Experience failure. Try many topics and practice the courage to fail.
  • Just have fun. Learn whatever I’m interested in. No need to care about grades and how people perceive them.

My Education hypothesis

Not until the horrible breakup that challenged my foundations, did I realize I have an extreme radical worldview for education, and my capstone needed to tie with it.

My education hypothesis: I believe in education. Personal development in every realms(study, skills, love……) is not a no, but always not yet.

Education for me isn’t only about being a teacher or working in the education industry. It can have many faces, including

  • Write reflection posts on Facebook. like Anting Liu or Alan
  • Have a speech/Ted Talk
  • Make podcasts or youtube videos
  • Grow with your partner
  • Raise a child

What do I have now to expand on my worldview?

  • Faith: My heart. My faith in learning and education is strong enough for a long-term commitment.
  • Curiosity: My horse. It gives me daily joy for moving toward my commitment. It drives me instinctively.
  • Strategy: My map. As an analytical person, I have the ability to apply strategies quantitatively(data science) and qualitatively(business strategy) to achieve difficult goals and build up complicated systems.

Today, I am still not exactly sure what my capstone will be and I’m still stuck in HSR, but I’m not afraid. I know I have all I need.

How can capstone relate to my worldview?

My purpose of capstone is no longer about publishing a cool paper, but exploring a niche for me to expand my worldview. By the end of the capstone, I want to answer the following questions.

  • Do I still want to stay in the Big Tech industry after graduation? How does capstone give me an alternative career choice?
  • Is my career purpose of education formal or informal? Is dedicating myself to the education industry necessary?
  • What career choices do I include and exclude that align with my education hypothesis? Will it be Research-based? Business operation based? Education institution-based? Product invention based?
  • What do I want to do in my day-to-day life? Even if my value is clear, doing is different from self-understanding. I want to know what specific tasks I’m interested in doing. I only know I like learning new algorithms, debugging, building ML models, writing curriculums, strategizing, but don’t like creating data visualization, grading that much.

To be more practical, I will start with what I know and what I can do from my past experience.

Relevant past experience

  • Teach for Taiwan work experience: I know how to look at education problems holistically, how to consider potential organizational barriers and systematic problems.
  • Algorithm teaching assistant experience: I know how to build a curriculum, how to teach programming, how to assess student performance.
  • Data science experience: I know how to create interactive visualization with professional tools, how to build machine learning models, and how to communicate insights from data.

Combing all things above, I will start by understanding the structural problems for programming education, apply data science to analyze the problem, and brainstorm practical solutions based on my TA experience.

How can I put my capstone into execution?

Reflecting back on my capstone so far, I realize I’m really good at the top-down breakdown, but relatively slow at execution and iterations. Doing is different from imagining.

Hence, I want to brainstorm methods that I can create a motivational environment.

  • Formal accountability: Work and school deadlines work well for me. What if I imagine my current capstone as a final assignment? Or what if I tie my final assignment as part of my capstone? The neuroscience final assignment can give insights into the science of learning, while I can use the education dataset for my machine learning assignment.
  • Informal accountability: If friends are driven enough, we not only hold each other accountable but also inspire each other. Sadly, only Ha and Phuong are driven enough but they don’t want to do it now.
  • Social motivation: Since I decide to publish one capstone writing one Medium every month, I commit to it. Now, I decide that next month's topic will be one of my capstone iterations.
  • Structural environment: I know I easily get sidetracked and demotivated if I need to come up with and build up my own project. Yet, I know I’m good at following structural learning environments like online courses, and creating things above and beyond based on them. So far, there is only a Coursera learning analytics course, but there isn’t any high-quality source so far. TBD.

Conclusion

This is a self-aware post with a strong confidence boost. I always think my passion for education might be fake or not strong enough because I get bored sometimes talking about it. From the recent crisis, I don’t think that’s the case anymore. I only need to find a sweet spot for myself.

I believe as long as I’m self-aware, my life will guide me to my purpose.

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